Last night I watched, or rather listened to, an end of watch video online. To say the very least, this was a huge mistake an hour after my husband began his eleven hour night shift. Instead of sleeping I spent the many wee hours of the night obsessing over the various scenarios in which a police officer receives an end of watch call.
May God bless and be with the family of that fallen officer and the others that went before him. There are no words of appreciation for the sacrifice those families have made.
Nine years ago, when he accepted the call to duty, I spent night after night worrying for his safety...waiting for that call and praying it never came. We have always been on the midnight shift so I spend a lot of nights home alone. With my writer's mind I used to lay in bed concocting situations and events that would result in a middle of the night phone call.
I don't tend to do that anymore. In fact, most nights I sleep pretty well when he is gone. Unless I do something like I did last night. Those are the moments that keep me humble. They remind me that life is precious and I need to value and appreciate the time we have together and as a family because you never know when it might come to a screeching halt.
My dad passed away four years ago. It seemed like one minute he was fine and the next a hungry tumor devastated his brain. He lived a little over five weeks following his diagnosis. We talked a lot in that time. He shared story after story of his youth with me. Sometimes I would dial the phone to ask mom a question and an hour and a half later I would hang up the phone without ever hearing my mother's voice. I learned a lot about my dad in those conversations- about him as a person and not just as my father. In the months and years that have followed his passing I have reviewed those stories in my mind and compiled them in a book for my mom. I wanted her to hang on to those memories.
If I learned anything from my father's passing, I learned that the people we love are the most important thing in life. I also learned that I can spend night after night fearing the worst or I can seize each day we have together and make memories that will last long into the dark hours of the night and beyond.
I could go on and on about the challenges of being married to a police officer and how our life is so different but so could a military spouse or the spouse of an emergency room physician. There are challenges in every relationship- marriage or otherwise. Two of my siblings live almost a thousand miles away. We maybe see each other once a year and we definitely miss out on the day to day changes of each other's children. So, we send pictures and videos and emails and FB status updates and work hard to maintain contact. We don't stop being family because we are not in proximity.
The video I listened to last night was beautiful. The dispatcher paid homage to a man who sounded pretty amazing. He was obviously loved and respected by many. Such a legacy to leave behind in the wake of so much tragedy. He will forever be remembered not only as a hero but as a great man who influenced the lives of many. I could hear it in the dispatcher's voice. Material possessions are fine to have and they may bring us joy in the short term- I personally can not make it through a day without my laptop and I really adore my little red car with its sunroof- however possessions are finite. They do not comfort our loved ones in our absence and no one will really care about my car or my laptop when I am gone.